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How To Set Up A Time-Lapse On Your Jobsite

How does time-lapse photography work?

Time-lapse photography is a technique that involves capturing film frames at a frame rate that’s lower that the rate used to play the sequence back. When you replay it at normal speed, it appears that time is moving quickly. This enables you to condense months of footage to just a few minutes, creating a powerful showcase of construction work completed over time.

So how do we do it?

Time-lapsing requires taking photos at set intervals, over a predefined time period. Unless you plan to live behind your camera for the next few days or months, you’ll need some sort of equipment to take the photos for you. There are three main ways to accomplish this:

1. Use an intervalometer.

An intervalometer is a remote timer that lets you program when a camera will take photos. Because this method uses DSLR cameras, you will have a lot of control over your camera settings. Although this method of creating time-lapse footage offers great control for short-term recordings, it’s not ideal for long-term time-lapsing. Your system must have access to continuous power, and you will need to manage storage space. You don’t want to find out your camera ran out of room for photos mid-project.

This also requires you to leave expensive equipment unsupervised. For this approach, you need to really know what you’re doing – you cannot see your full size photos or your time-lapse until the project is over. At that point it is too late to make corrections.

Pros

+ Relatively inexpensive

+ Full control over DSLR settings

+ High Quality Photos

Cons

– Needs a weatherproof enclosure

– Limited battery life and storage space

– Can walk away if not supervised

– Requires separate video production efforts

2. Use a camera with build-in timelapsing.

High-end DSLR cameras may feature internal intervalometers. This option generally follows the same pros and cons listed above when using an intervalometer. However, these cameras are generally much more expensive, meaning you really don’t want to leave them unsupervised. Cameras with built-in time-lapsing often have limited settings and adjustments available, meaning you might not be able to customize the time-lapse exactly how you’d like. 

Pros

+ One less hardware item to buy, weatherproof, troubleshoot

+ Full control over DSLR settings

+ High Quality Photos

Cons

– Found on the most expensive cameras

– Less settings for time-lapsing than intervalometer

– Needs a weatherproof enclosure

– Limited battery life and storage space

– Can walk away if not supervised

– Requires separate video production efforts

3. Use software to control an IP camera. 

TrueLook Construction Camera Interface

IP cameras are purpose built for long term set-it-and-forget-it applications. Power and storage are unlimited. They can be mounted anywhere out of reach, are fairly inconspicuous, and easy to weatherproof. Software can tell the camera to take photos at any time interval and store them on the cloud. This also means you can see your photos and time-lapse video progress during your projects, instead of waiting until the end. Although there is less control over the camera settings for photography pros used to manually dialing in a DSLR, this approach can be part of a larger product suite of features, such as live camera viewing, a historical image calendar, security video recording, and more.

Pros

+ No camera knowledge required

+ Unlimited power and storage

+ Weatherproof

+ Time-lapses created automatically and viewable anytime

+ Includes additional capabilities (remote viewing, video recording, etc)

Cons

– Can be more expensive depending on camera selection and project length

– No direct control over camera settings (shutter, ISO, aperture, etc)

No matter which approach you take, adding time-lapse photography to your jobsite is an effective way of proving your firm’s capabilities, scale and ability to execute. TrueLook can help you choose a solution right for your project. Watch a demo to learn more.